Working on the Kerslake Review of the Treasury

Through Labour Business, I joined the Kerslake Treasury Review Team in April 2016, about seven months after the project started. I worked on the project part-time until struck down by a particularly vicious flu bug at Christmas 2016. I have previously worked on a number of other organisation studies but never one so completely under-resourced. I am amazed and delighted that the final report, published in February 2017, turned out so well. Apart from the experience and professionalism of the ex-civil servants on the team, I put this down to the consistent and high quality input we received from the very many knowledgeable people who attended meetings or supplied reports.

I have a particular thought that is outside the scope of the review: my impression of the Treasury is that it is innately conservative, short-term in outlook, and lacking in sympathy for non-financial, social or environmental goals. This accords with the dominant neoclassical economic theories taught in Western universities. The approach might suit some governments but a left-of-centre government that wished to pursue a fairness and equality agenda might equally find it a problem. At present, Labour has strong storylines on the need for living wages, NHS and education spending, and infrastructure investment. It does not have a strong storyline on the economic benefits of its approach and this is a credibility threat. Therefore, Labour needs, in my view, to develop a well-thought-out industrial strategy that focuses on high skilled, highly paid jobs, sustainable policies for economic development and the economic benefits, these would bring.

Rod Dowler

February 2017

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The Kerslake Review of the Treasury
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